Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This Makes it All Worthwhile

One of my mates in Philly is a devout follower of the Fight Survival System that I teach. Marc comes to all the seminars and has been down to Charlotte to attend the first half of his instructor's certification as well as to several of the annual boot camps we do.

Last night I received this message from him...

Nick: My sister just called me to tell me she was the victim of a home invasion.

She woke up on her couch to a man standing over her. Apparently, he told her to "shut the fuck up" and grabbed her breasts. I've shared my FIST training with her so she could stay safe at college. She took the initiative and did exactly the last thing this guy was expecting and beat the shit out of him. After multiple strikes to the face and groin, he fled. She was so amped she she chased him down barefoot in the snow and continued the beating, during the course of which he lost his cell phone.

Cops now have his billing info and prints. She was unscathed.

FIST WORKS! She's 5'2" 120lbs and destroyed this guy. Thank you for the training to fight and win and thank you for the instructor training so I could share these life saving skills with my sister. When you're out in Philly, I'll be sure to bring her out. Feel free to share this story with others.


I've had several letters and calls like this over the years...a blue belt who scared off and was responsible for the capture of a campus rapist in Australia, an English mate who was nearly mugged by 3 guys here in Charlotte, a Legion buddy who's son learned the stuff I taught him and survived a multiple attack in the UK.

They are, undoubtedly, what makes all the years of training, sacrifice and teaching worthwhile (it sure isn't the money as anyone who teaches the real deal stuff will tell you.)

I'm crossing my fingers the cell phone leads back to the attacker (and wasn't stolen). I'm also hoping if it does come back to him the DNA test that will undoubtedly be run will link him to other attacks and one less evil bastid will be out on the streets preying on women.

That's my Christmas wish...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I Hate to Say I Told You So...

For my regular readers you might remember a few posts ago how I talked about the naive girls uptown in Charlotte who, after a sexual assault made the news, stated they'd carry mace, Taser and guns etc.

I pointed out that too many people place far too much confidence in their weapons and that bad guys are a) well aware some people carry them and b) work hard at disguising their approach so that when the ambush comes you won't have time to get your weapon to hand.

In other words weapons are only any good when you have them in your hand and they're ready to go. (and it's nice if they actually work when you need them to and do what they say on the tin)

The recent tragedy of the four law enforcement officers being ambushed and slain in Tacoma only confirms the point I made in the blog.

Here are four cops who, if they're anything like most of them in this country, had pistols, Tasers, O.C. spray, and batons. Count them. That's four different weapons to hand on their belts when the scumbag who killed them got the drop on them.

Now, if one of them had his weapon in his hand when the bad guy went to draw his, it would be an entirely different story but they didn't, and we all know how it ended.

These were cops folks. People who deal with the scum of the earth on a day to day basis and who train fairly regularly with their weapons. They also tend to have more street smarts than the average person does so, if their weapons didn't do them any good, what are yours going to do for you?

You need tons of awareness. Knowledge as to how the bad guys operate and scenario based training otherwise you are kidding yourself. Weapons on their own just don't cut it -- and that includes empty handed ones.

PS: I am very happy to say the skidmark who killed them was shot a day or so later. Good glad we've been spared the expense of incarcerating him for 14 or so years while he exhausts his appeals and costs the taxpayers a small fortune.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Danger of the Sporting Mindset

I was surfing a friend's forum and they were talking about a DVD by a noted self protection instructor on the subject of defeating an MMA trained adversary. He points out in the DVD that with the popularity of MMA training it's becoming more and more likely that you'll end up scrapping with someone who's had such training.

Of course the MMA forums are denigrating the DVD saying that the only way an MMA fighter can be beaten is (and I quote)

a "seasoned" (read truly skilled ) MMA practitioner can only be countered by 1. Luck; 2. Equal or greater skill; or 3. A massive size/strength/injury disparity.

This is an absolutely perfect example of the danger of training in a sporting discipline. Notice the angle they come at it with i.e. from an entirely sporting context.

From my perspective, that of someone dealing with the real world and not the ring I'd be thinking of things such as...

A martial artist should be concerned about...1. A guy with a gun; 2. A guy with a knife; 3. A group of guys; 4. A group of guys with weapons; 5. A sucker punch; 6. A pre-emptive strike; 7. An ambush; 8. A mob kicking the crap out of me while I'm rolling round on the ground with someone trying to put them in a cool triangle choke etc.

At first blush this might seem like a criticism of MMA guys and it's not. I admire anyone who trains hard and puts it on the line, no matter what discipline that is. It is however a criticism of the dangers of a sporting mindset and it is also a criticism of guys who play in the ring thinking they are automatically now qualified to talk about self defense.

That's a little like paint-ballers telling Special Forces guys how to conduct themselves in a firefight.

Self defense/protection training requires a certain mind-set, don't confuse it with the mindset you'll develop in a club that concentrates on sport.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How To Be Your Own Body Guard

My friends at Y2 Yoga in Charlotte (at Cotswald Shopping Center next to Charley's) and I are putting on a presentation on Sunday Dec 6th at 5 pm entitled "How To Be Your Own Body Guard."

I've mentioned the process bad guys go through when committing a crime on my blog before i.e. S.I.V.A. which stands for Selection, Isolation, Verbal and then Attack. Most martial arts systems begin with the fight, or the attack which means they're ignoring fully 75% of the self protection problem.

How to be Your Own Body Guard addresses that and focuses on the avoidance and awareness strategies of a body guard modified for civilian purposes and covers how to avoid being selected in the first place, tips and tricks for when you're on your own, and verbal skills for talking your way out of trouble.

If you're in town that day do yourself a favour and come check it out. Crime always spikes round the holidays and you can't beat the price.

Space is limited and a lot of people are already coming so check first if there's still room and then come along. Bring your friends, wife, mum, sister, spouse might just save their life or prevent them becoming another statistic.'s at Y2 Yoga in Cotswald Mall next to Charley's restaurant on Sunday December 6 at 5 pm or 17:00 hours.

See you there.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ignorance is Bliss

Approximately a week ago a young woman was assaulted uptown by a sexual predator. Of course, if the information in the media is to be believed, she was on her own walking back to her car when the attack happened and she was under the influence of alcohol.

Obviously that's fairly tragic but what bugged me almost as much was the - dare I say it - stupid responses by other young girls they interviewed about the attack.

The first one claimed she and her girlfriend are going to buy and carry mace. Now we've talked about this before...mace is pretty much useless. I don't want to rely on something that I have to lick my finger and determine the wind direction before I can use it, something that I might spray myself with under stress (hey, plenty of rookie cops do just that the first time) and, that even if I use correctly, may not work.

The second one said she's buying a taser. Yep, that's definitely a step up from the mace product but there's still a HUGE problem and that is that all weapons, no matter what form they may take, have to be in your hand when you're attacked to be viable.

Criminals aren't as stupid as some seem to think they are. They know people carry weapons and so they launch their attacks accordingly i.e. they talk their way in and ambush you, or they hide and then ambush you. Either way, unless your weapon is in your hand, primed for use (and that's assuming you're sober right!!) it's about as much use as a snooze button on a smoke alarm.

Sorry, but I just can't see the women I've seen stumbling out of clubs at 2am having the presence of mind to access their weapon for the walk to the car or having the wherewithal to use it given their state of inebriation.

You're pinning your hope of survival on a tool instead of pinning it on yourself...and that's a recipe for disaster.

The third lass in the story was the worst yet. She claimed she was going to get security to escort her to her car and actually had the gall to say "I know they're needed elsewhere but I'm going to have them walk me there anyway."

She's assuming that the rent-a-cops are capable, that they're going to be allowed to leave their posts to provide our prima donna with her own personal escort and that there's enough of them to go around to escort every woman who wants their own body guard back to their car. Not gonna happen.

Here's a better solution...learn to defend yourself, travel in packs, and stay lucid enough to be aware of your surroundings.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Toughen Up

A few weeks ago I was hanging out on the door of a local club with one of my former students who was bouncing there.

We were outside chatting when one of the patrons left with a buddy and, no sooner had he made it to the corner, he was in a screaming match with two other guys.

There was a fair bit of yelling and then the patron came back to ask our opinion as to whether he was justified in fighting these guys because one of them accused him of being on steroids. The accuser was there also trying to apologize and both mates were trying to calm their respective friends down as well. Usual Saturday night on the door I

The accused steroid user wasn't having any of it...he wanted a fight by crikey...his honor had been sullied...someone had - gasp - accused our intrepid hero of using the juice. (never mind that it looked like he probably was). There he was with his jaw stuck out (stupid idea) raging against his mate, trying his darnedest to get to the other guy so they could fight. All the while the accuser just kept apologizing and trying to shake hands.

The irate patron meantime kept asking us for justification. Finally I got around to answering him. "'re on 3 cameras and there's cops everywhere...give it a swerve. Go home. Don't worry about it."

Nope...he wanted a fight so I asked him "got a question for you skippy...if you fight this guy and his head hits the bricks and he dies, will it all have been worth it? Will you be sitting in a cell thinking it was all worth it?"

I doubted it but he didn't get the message and still wanted to fight at which point the accuser, his mate and steroid boy's mate had all but had enough and got around to leaving.

Here's the deal...I've been guilty in the past of fighting over some perceived slur to defend my honor etc. but I've learned over the years it probably wasn't worth it for a great many of them.

Develop a thicker skin for god's sake...if you don't care what someone thinks about politics, religion or a particular TV show why should you care what they think of you?

If you can do this it will go along way to keeping you out of unnecessary fights...and avoidance is a HUGE part of self protection.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I recently read an article about the link between people with stickers on their cars and their propensity for road rage.

The study was conducted by a Colorado State University professor one William Szlemko and he discovered that...

"The number of territory markers predicted road rage better than vehicle value, condition, or any of the things that we normally associate with aggressive driving,' quote unquote.

The really interesting part I thought, was that the type of sticker had no bearing on his findings. In other words the "earth biscuits" with their "Jesus Saves" "Co-Exist" and "Visualize World Peace" were just as likely to get in a snit driving as the "keep honking, I'm reloading types."

So, now you know. Give the sticker crowd a wide berth when you see them out there.

PS: As a matter of many stickers are on your car?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monkey See, Monkey Do

I have a huge problem with the propensity of reality TV shows that air details about police, special forces, DEA, forensic processes and so on. Why? Because the bad guys watch them too and they learn from them.

There have been cases where rapists are wearing condoms and making their victims shower before leaving to destroy any DNA evidence. There's another where a rapist smuggled semen out of prison so his brother could plant it on someone else in a bid to prove there must be someone else out there with matching DNA.

How about home invasions? Someone's going to have to convince me the trend isn't a result of watching SWAT and DEA teams on TV raiding the bad guys houses. Some of the MS-13 crew have even been purported to post snipers out the back of the houses they invade lest someone tries to escape that way. That is straight out of the commando play book on taking down a occupied dwelling.

Not too long ago one of my students told me about his mate in uptown Charlotte. "Steve" (not his real name) was walking home with his woman from dinner and a few drinks. Two black guys walking towards them suddenly lashed grabbed her by the neck and put a gun to her head while his accomplice stood back with his weapon concealed behind his hand in front of his waist area and told Steve to hand over all their stuff (watches, phones, wallets, rings etc). The threat for non-compliance was chilling..."hand it over and don't try anything or we'll kill her while you watch, then we'll kill you."

The way the guy stood with his arm round the girl and the other guy stood back made it look, to anyone passing by, like a group of four friends hanging around chatting on the sidewalk. Even a law enforcement buddy of mine said, after seeing a re-enactment, it wouldn't have raised any alarm bells with him."

Of course at that point there's not much anyone can do. I don't care if you're Jackie Chan on six cups of espresso and Chuck Norris all rolled into are in the kill box of an ambush and there's a good reason they call it that. (This is where S.I.V.A. comes into play...the Selection, Isolation and Verbal portion of that acronym is where the avoidance and awareness comes into play)

When Steve was reporting what happened to the police later he commented on the fact they seemed so organised and had their attack planned...there was non of the usual histrionics and waving guns around, holding them sideways etc. The Sgt taking the report replied that "yes, they're continually evolving and they get most if from TV."

I can only hope that one day a family member, or a member of the media, who think it's cute to air all this stuff becomes the victim of someone who's got their skills watching his show on television. To be hoist by his own petard as it were. How fitting that would be.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Bug In Bag Stuff

Back when I was posting on a regular basis we were in the process of going through the contents of the Bug In Bag. Someone had asked about a small bag and I said I'd get back to them on it, which I will sometime in the very near future.

What I want to cover here though is what do you keep on your person at all times? Bug in Bags are great but there's going to be times when it's just not practical to tote one with you and it will be in the trunk (boot) of the car and you'll be faced with some minor emergency.

Here's what I consider the bare minimum and, as usual, if you have any ideas please feel free to submit them.

1. Cell phone (pretty obvious but they are worth their weight in gold when there's a flap on. Don't forget though that in a big emergency (9/11 and London's equivalent) the system will typically be overloaded and they won't always work.

2. Credit card and cash. Credit cards are always good to have around in an emergency but don't forget some cash as well. In the big power outage (black out) people weren't able to use ATMs due to no electricity.

3. Small key chain flashlight. You've seen them...the tiny LED light that is part of the key chain. These things are a godsend for dropped keys in the dark, finding your seat in a movie theatre etc.

4. Knife. Doesn't much matter to me if you have a tactical folder, a multi-purpose tool like a Leatherman or a Swiss Army Knife but have something. I saw a clip recently where two people trapped in a burning car nearly perished because nobody had a knife to cut them free of their seat belts. Now in some jurisdictions the carriage of a knife can be illegal so make sure you check out the local laws regarding blades. Personally I wouldn't live somewhere that wouldn't let me carry one but hey...that's just me.

That for me is it...the bare bones minimum I carry on a daily basis. Would it be nice to have more? Of course but it's not always practical and it's not always necessary.

As previously mentioned, if you have anything you carry on a daily basis that you can't live without, or find you use all the time, post a comment and I'll make sure it gets aired.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What Price?

I've got a bunch of friends on one self defense forum in the UK that denigrate what they call the tactical underwear brigade.

The allege that these guys (who supposedly wear camouflage all the time) are over the top when it comes to self protection because they tote kit with them consisting of flashlights, first aid gear, Leatherman multi-purpose tools etc.

Now, are there Walter Mitty's running round waiting for an the world to come to an end, jumping at shadows and imagining all sorts of bad things are going to happen any minute? Sure there are...but they're not unique to the self protection world. A lot of them gravitate there because by nature they fear things that can go wrong and learning self protection is one step in making sure bad things don't happen.

However, I think my mates protest too much. Carrying some gear with you, as in the case of the Bug In Bag I posted about last year, is just plain smart in my humble opinion.

Here's the question to ask...and it's the one I wish the guys on the forum would ask themselves...

What does it cost you if you're right and nothing ever happens (and to most people it doesn't)?
Nothing at all.

What does it cost our prepared friend? Let's be generous and call it $100 for a mini-mag, a Swiss Army knife, a small Adventure first aid kit, a bandana, some water, etc's where it gets interesting...

What does it cost if something DOES happen and you don't have that kit? What does it cost then? I recently watched a clip of a vehicle on fire here in the States and a bunch of people standing around waiting for the emergency services to arrive to extract the driver and baby trapped in the vehicle.

Finally some off duty para-medics get stuck in (without their gear) and they got 3rd degree burns on their arms while struggling with the seat belts etc. If one of my tactical underwear mates had been on hand he'd have whipped out his blade and sliced the seat belts and everyone would have been saved, sans burns and no time wasted.

What did it cost people trapped in the buildings on 9/11 (the anniversary is coming up by the way) and what about the poor sods trapped underground in England during their recent terrorist attack? No lights, no water, people bleeding (in some cases to death) smoke inhalation, and in pain. I wonder what price they'd have been willing to pay for some of the kit my mates carry on a regular basis?

Laugh all you want...but when the proverbial brown stuff hits the ventilating system the guy with the kit is the one doing all the laughing.